Jeremy Manley to lead NZ Black Sox at Oceanias

November 24, 2014

Auckland, NZ



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MOUND MAN Black Sox ace Jeremy Manley is returning from the United States for the Oceania qualifying series.

World champion pitcher Jeremy Manley will spearhead the New Zealand Black Sox defence for the upcoming Oceania series.

Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson confirmed Manley will return for the world championship regional qualifying tournament with Australia and Samoa in Auckland on December 12 and 13.

Manley, from Feilding, hurled the Black Sox to a record sixth world title in Auckland in 2013, and has been working as a volunteer pitching coach at Illinois State University and playing in major North American club tournaments.

Sorenson said Manley - who won the Kevin Herlihy Memorial Award for the top world championship pitcher - would lead the Black Sox pitching staff with veteran left-hander Heinie Shannon (Auckland) and younger fastballers Nik Hayes (Hutt Valley) and Kurt Schollum (Marlborough).

"We've got a good mix. We've got two young power pitchers in Nik and Kurt and we've got that left-handed experience in Heinie, who can start a game and is also very good at coming into games in a reliever role.

"Then we've got Jeremy, who's a craftsman and who can shut teams down with finesse. He still throws pretty firm, but he's very good at putting the ball on the corners of the plate."

Manley, now in his early 30s, was focusing more now on "just getting guys out, rather than racking up strikeouts", said Sorenson, who likened the Manawatu man's style to former Black Sox pitching great Michael White.

Two Hutt Valley players, catcher Cory Timu, and infielder Joel Evans have been called up after working hard to improve their conditioning.

"Such is the turnaround with Joel that he was leading the fitness testing at Black Sox camps. It's great to see that sort of determination coming through.

"Cory's a good catcher, who just needs more experience. He was the top batter at the NFC [National Fastpitch Championship] last year, so he's got that offensive ability too."

Sorenson admitted his squad was top heavy with infielders, but he said captain Nathan Nukunuku and Thomas Enoka could both deputise in the outfield, if needed.

Hutt Valley infielder Tyson Byrne returns to the Black Sox after starring at the world championships before having a year off international softball.

North Harbour's Brad Rona, a veteran of four world championships, is unavailable due to injury.

Another long-server, Donny Hale, is likely to fill the designated player (DP) specialist hitting role but is still an outfield option, alongside Ben Enoka, Campbell Makea and Wayne Laulu.

Nine of the 17-strong squad played at the last world championships. Thomas Enoka played for Samoa in 2013 but has since received an International Softball Federation dispensation to represent New Zealand.

Sorenson said the Black Sox selectors were looking to rebuild depth after a rash of retirements, including longtime greats Thomas Makea, Jarrad Martin, Patrick Shannon and Rhys Casley.

The top two Oceania teams will qualify for next year's world championships in Canada. "There's no second chances in this tournament. It's going to be tough. There's going to be some quality softball and some really competitive play," Sorenson said.


he Black Sox squad is:

Pitchers: Nik Hayes (Hutt Valley), Jeremy Manley (USA), Heinie Shannon (Auckland), Kurt Schollum (Marlborough). Catchers: Cory Timu (Hutt Valley), Stephen Ratu (Wellington). Infielders: Thomas Enoka, Nathan Nukunuku (Auckland), Tyron Bartorillo, Josh Harbrow (Canterbury), Joel Evans, Tyson Byrne (Hutt Valley), Jerome Raemaki (Wellington). Outfielders: Ben Enoka, Donny Hale (Auckland), Wayne Laulu, Campbell Makea (Wellington).


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